Published: 06th November 2019
This Pollachi filmmaker is also a novelist and a full-time government employee. Multi-tasking much?
Siva Raj has pursued various interests and jobs but his heart has always been in films. He talks about his short film Silanthi, his journey in cinema and how you need to struggle as a scriptwriter
One day, an upset farmer told Siva Raj, a government employee the story about how his bull had died in a freak accident. And it was so freakish, that the scene looked like the bull had committed suicide. An accident on the road led to the bullock cart slipping off a cliff and the bull choked on the rope holding its neck. This story upset Siva Raj, so that night he sat and wrote about the incident. A few days later, he came across a short story writing competition and just sent in the story for fun. He won the second prize. So he sat down to write some more.
Siva was then working in telecommunications at the Police Department. He even attempted the TNPSC that year and was also able to move to the Education Department even though he was due to get into the Revenue Department. But he thought that working in the Education Department would give him time to write and so he wrote. That same year, the show Nalaiyar Iyyakunar on Kalaignar TV was aired and a participant from the show got in touch with him and asked him to pen a script for the next round.
Now, this was an exciting opportunity for Siva, who had grown up on a comfortable diet of two films a day. So he wrote a script and the team went to the following round, also earning a lot of praise from Director Karthik Subbaraj, an alumnus of the show. So the team collaborated with Siva again and in the next round, they managed a spot in the top five. Soon other directors got in touch with him, requesting a collaboration.
But at this point, Siva began to wonder what it would be like to direct his own film. He knew with his job in Pollachi was miles away from the headquarters of Tamil cinema, Chennai. But Siva decided to give it go anyway, he got a few technicians from Chennai, used his local friends in the area and found shooting spots as well. And he began to shoot. It was not easy, financially or execution wise. "It was just a three-character film set in a single location. It is a black noir film, all the characters have negatives perspectives," Siva explained. The film was named Silandhi.
Silandhi is a three-character film set in a single location
Siva got help from friends for funding the film and after quite a struggle he got it made. In all of this, Siva also brought out a book of short stories after a publishing company suggested the idea to him.The filmmaking experience taught Siva a lot about himself and it also gave him the boost he required, as it went on to win awards and was screened at many festivals. However, what really stands out about Siva is that he wants to be a scriptwriter. That's unusual for an industry mostly filled with aspiring directors.
Interestingly, Siva tells us the industry is not very kind to writers and is not too encouraging of them. Here, it is expected that the director writes their own story, "People don't really give that much importance to writers and writers are not always given their due. They usually figure under the Thank You section or the 'inspired from' section. Not much money and no credit either," Siva says.
Siva Raj's book is available for order on Amazon - https://www.amazon.in/dp/B07YBJJWZ3
The young writer says that by signing away the credits of the film, producers risk not making money in case the film gets remade in another language."When you're pitching an idea to a director or producer, it's difficult to decide whether or not to tell them the whole story. Because you're not sure they would accept it in the end but you're also not sure if they like just one part of the script and so take that for their film. Then what can we do as writers? There's no certainty," he explained.
Now, this is just an added worry for Siva, he also has a full-time job as a government servant and a family to take care of. When I ask him just how he manages to juggle all this, he promptly says that he has the weekend. "Since I'm earning my family doesn't ask me any questions. But to be honest, I do want to completely immerse my self into the film industry. But people keep chiding me about why I would have such aspirations when I'm sitting in Pollachi," Siva said in despair.
But he wants to move to Chennai, he wants to do films full time. And he hopes that that day is not too far.
Check out Silandhi's trailer —